SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A bill banning so-called “vaccine passports” has cleared a Utah Senate committee.
House Bill 60, sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks (R-St. George), which passed out of the Senate and Revenue and Taxation Committee Tuesday afternoon in a 7 to 2 vote, but not before some major fireworks that led to three people getting kicked out, including one man who was taken out in handcuffs and arrested.
In fact, of the four people who have been removed from committee hearings this legislative session, all four of them were associated with this bill, the Utah Highway Patrol told KUTV 2News.
The drama began as the meeting got started. First on the agenda was Brooks' bill, which says businesses and government entities can’t discriminate based on your vaccination status, although there are some exceptions.
Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton), the committee chair, warned the crowd who had gathered in support of the bill against outbursts or any type of displays. He said some members of the audience were violating those rules, so McCay recessed the committee for a few minutes.
UHP Capt. Greg Holley told KUTV 2News Senate security asked troopers to remove a man who had a sticker that violated the committee's rules and who was not complying with their requests.
The sticker read "Vote yes on HB60."
As the troopers asked the man to come with them, he filmed them with his phone. He stood up and showed off a shirt that said “We the People” on the front and some other writing on the back. The crowd started yelling at troopers to leave him alone.
A few moments later, troopers handcuffed the man and took him out of the room.
The man who was handcuffed was arrested and detained, Holley said. He was later cited and released. Holley told KUTV 2News the man's removal at the request of Senate security was due only to his non-compliance over the sticker, not the shirt he was wearing.
The man declined to speak with KUTV 2News about what happened.
After the man was taken out of the room, people started yelling at McCay, upset at the man’s removal.
"Stop the false flag!" one man yelled. McCay ordered the troopers to remove him.
"He's leaving now. Now!" McCay said. "Anyone else?"
"Tyranny rules here!" shouted a woman, whom McCay also ordered removed from the room. "George Washington was in the position we're in!"
"Do not in my committee equate any of you with George Washington, or any of us for that matter," said McCay. "We are all, we are all Americans, and George Washington was a super-human."
The meeting proceeded with the bill sponsor, Rep. Walt Brooks (R-St. George), beginning his presentation but criticizing how the previous few minutes were handled.
"I’m deeply disappointed," Brooks said.
"Do not test the mettle of the chair," McCay sternly warned.
"I don’t intend to," said Brooks, "but I do believe that I have a right to speak to what this bill’s trying to propose."
It then seemed McCay was about to seek to move to the next item on the agenda, but things calmed down and the presentation continued.
House Bill 60 ended up getting amended during the committee hearing – much to Brooks' chagrin – and now heads to the full Senate for a vote. It previously passed the House but needs to back for another vote because the bill was changed since then. That all needs to happen before the end of the legislative session on Friday night.
It's been a fairly quiet session as far as outbursts go. Besides Tuesday's incident, Utah Highway Patrol told KUTV 2News just one other person has been removed from a committee meeting this session – a man who shouted something during the House committee hearing two weeks ago on the very same bill.